HERMON – Anglers who can’t double haul, be warned about fishing the waters in eastern Maine. A pair of diminutive fly fishermen are gonna show you up.

They are the McKay brothers, ages 7 and 10, and they can cast like nobody’s business.

These boys may not be old enough to go boating without a life jacket. Jax still may use a child seat in his father’s truck.

But Tait and Jax McKay still can place a dry fly next to a caddis fly, sniff out a hatch and best of all: Catch Fish.

When 10-year-old Tait landed his first black crappie of the afternoon two weeks ago, his father didn’t even move to celebrate.

Neither did Tait nor Kevin McKay react when 7-year-old Jax mused out loud about his double haul, the technique that pushes the line out faster.

“There’s such a thing as triple hauling. It’s wicked fun,” Tait McKay chirped.

Kind of scary.

However, despite their youth the McKays have years of experience. And there’s a reason for it.

Kevin McKay is the administrator for the fishing forum www.Maineflyfish.com and a Registered Maine Guide.

Since Jax and Tait were young enough to sit in their father’s lap, they were watching him tie flies and cast for trout and salmon.

SALMON AND SNACKS

When Tait was 3, McKay took him on his first fishing trip, up to Greenville and the Roach River, where the boy learned to fly fish on Maine’s landlocked salmon.

For his toddler son McKay simplified the approach. He took a Batman spinning rod and put an old fly reel on it. Then he put short 20-pound monofilament test on the rod and a fly without a hook.

“I put a bunch of snacks on the bank. He’d cast and hit me in the head and get tangled up in my rod. Then he’d go up and eat some snacks and start over. Then if I hooked a salmon, I’d let him reel it in,” McKay said.

They have 11 years of fly-fishing experience between them, and the McKay boys have spent birthdays at First Road Pond, at the West Branch of the Penobscot, and on waters their father won’t even let them name.

They even know how to lie like fishermen.

“Remember, say Monkey Pond,” Kevin McKay instructed during a fishing outing and interview at Hermon Pond.

THEY TIE, TOO

And if all of that isn’t good enough to fill up an early morning full of fishing lore, these boys tie flies that sell.

(Just don’t tell the fishermen who buy them they use the money on LEGOs.)

“I bought them at the (Brewer) Cabin Fever Reliever, because how can you not buy a fly from a little kid? But theirs are different. I have the same fly. But mine has silver eyes, and theirs have yellow and black eyes. And theirs work,” said Cleve Hall of Carmel, who was fishing Hermon Pond the same day.

Fishing alongside his sons two weeks ago, McKay offered advice without looking at them, as if he could intuit where they needed to cast or how fast.

Between them, the boys hooked a crappie every 10 minutes.

“He tells me, ‘Strip, strip, pause.’ And then, ‘Keep stripping, and pause.’ And it works,” Tait McKay said of his father’s guiding instruction.

After Tait releases a crappie he celebrates by snacking on chips, while watching his brother land one without fanfare. There is no acknowledgement even for the smallest fly fishermen here.

This is what these guys do.

And if it’s not obvious, they dig it.

“I want to go to Mongolia and fish for taimen,” Tait McKay said of the Siberian salmon.

The way the McKay boys watch the fish rise and choose where to cast, it’s clear that fly-fishing is a part of their subconscious

The entomology and fish biology, the technique, pace and approach are things these guys get — without ever losing the carefree spirit of grade schoolers.

“Yours might be bigger, but mine is smarter,” Tait told his father as they reeled in a pair of crappies.

Sure, the black crappie is not the king of fish in Maine. But that afternoon the McKays fished for them at Hermon Pond?

It wasn’t even calm.

“That’s not that easy in these conditions,” Cleve Hall said watching the two boys cast in the wind. “It’s tough. But they make it look easy.”

 

Staff Writer Deirdre Fleming can be contacted at 791-6452 or at:

[email protected]